An Open Letter on Academic Freedom at the LSE to Director Dame Minouche Shafik
Dear Minouche,

A recent report published by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons (henceforth, the Report) entitled “A Cautious Embrace: Defending Democracy in an Age of Autocracies” [1] has highlighted the vulnerability of UK universities in the face of autocratic influence and interference.

As students, staff and alumni of an institution that pledges “to operate with a presumption in favour of free speech” [2], we are sure that the School will treat the Report seriously and take its recommendations forward.

In light of the Report, we are writing to draw the Director’s attention to the following few episodes that are especially alarming. Together, we hope to work with the school in safeguarding the integrity and academic freedoms we have long enjoyed at the LSE.

First and foremost, the Report has cited a Financial Times article (dated 27 October 2019 [3]) that details the recently suspended China programme due to be sponsored by Eric Li, a staunch supporter of the Chinese autocratic regime who has previously justified the ruthless crackdown of Tiananmen Square protests. This episode echoes with the School’s scandal in 2011, where dubious donations from Gaddafi, the late Libyan autocrat, were accepted. We also have similar concerns with LSE's Confucius Institute, linked to the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Education. This is very alarming as the episodes seem to suggest that the LSE is particularly susceptible to the risks posed by the soft power of regimes that are infamous for their human rights violations.

To avoid another questionable dealing of foreign donations, we propose that due diligence processes for donations must be thoroughly and transparently done. Moreover, expert academics must be duly consulted during decision-making. Indeed, this requires a revision of the School’s Ethics Code as the current Code is inadequate for countering foreign influence and interference.

Second, issues in relation to autocratic regimes have sparked controversies within the School’s community. As a reaction to the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, on-campus rallies have recently been organised to show solidarity with the people of Hong Kong. Some students, however, were seen to be intimidating and interfering with protesters who do not share their political stance during the rallies. Such interference is not unique to the LSE: sensitive student activities in some other UK universities have also been increasing interfered. With reference to the Report, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (henceforth, CSSA), a student society that is state sponsored by Beijing, has been suspected by the Royal United Services Institute to be an important instrument of such interference. To note, CSSA is an unofficial student group not affiliated to the LSE Students’ Union. As an institution that pledges to stand by integrity and intellectual freedom, it is essential that freedom of expression is indiscriminately protected.

Thus, those who agree with the stance shall share equal entitlement to freedom of expression as those who disagree. Beyond students on campus, we are also concerned about the safety of students sent abroad to exchange programs in autocratic states, where the School has little effective power to protect our peers from human rights violations.

Practical protection for advocates of anti-autocracy must therefore be in place.

To this end, the undersigned put forward the following suggestions to you, our LSE director:

1. To review due diligence processes in place for financial donations to the School
2. To review consultation procedures and include expert academics in decision-making related to what could be issues sensitive to academic freedoms
3. To survey the state of affairs at school and the effects of organisations that are already operating here
4. To review and revise the School's Ethics Code to include more robust principles on academic freedoms
5. To take active measures, e.g. reviewing existing student societies and their links to autocratic surveillance functions, setting up reporting mechanisms, punitive measures and guidelines, to ensure safety against autocratic influence and to safeguard a welcoming environment for students studying at the LSE and its exchange programs.

We are witnessing an emerging threat to the School and a free academic environment that we all love and cherish. By drawing the Director’s attention to these alarming instances of autocratic influence at the LSE, we urge you and the School's management team, together with the community, to take proactive actions to safeguard the School’s integrity and intellectual freedom against emerging threats in an age of autocracies.

We hope you will take our letter and suggestions into consideration. Let us all protect the LSE we love together.

Yours sincerely,
The undersigned students, staff and alumni of the LSE.

Organised by the LSESU-affiliated campaign LSE Students Alliance for Hong Kong.

Emily Lau 劉慧卿 Honorary Doctorate 2019, MSc International Relations 1982

Dr. Per Ahblom Accounting, 2016-present
Prof. Stephan Feuchtwang Emeritus Professor, Anthropology 1998-present
Professor Esra Özyürek European Institute
Dr. Seçkin Sertdemir Özdemir European Institute, 2019-present
Dr. Leticia Sabsay Gender Studies, 2014-present
Professor Anne Phillips Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science, Government 1999-present
Professor John Sidel Sir Patrick Gillam Chair in International & Comparative Politics, Government
Professor John Chalcraft Government
Professor Leigh Jenco Government, 2012-present
Dr. Joe Greenwood Government, 2018-present
Hwa Young Kim Government, 2017-present
Dr. Steffen Hertog Government, 2010-present
Dr Kate Meagher International Development, 2008-present
Dr. Pete Millwood International History, BA History 2010
Prof. Christopher Hughes International Relations, 1999-present
Professor Tarak Barkawi International Relations, 2013-present
Prof. William A. Callahan International Relations, 2013-present
Dr. Katerina Dalacoura International Relations, 2000-present
Dr. Kirsten Ainley International Relations, 2007-present
James Pavitt LSE Language Centre, 2009-present
Dr. Peter Skrandies LSE Language Centre, 2011-present
Dr. Ela Klecun (Taylor) Management, 2002-present
Catherine Bennett Media and Communications, 2003-present
Dr. Krisztián Pósch Methodology, PhD Social Research Methods and Statistics 2018
Dr. Johanna Thoma Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, 2016-present
Dr. Marius Backmann Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, 2019-present
Professor Tim Newburn Social Policy, 2002-present
Professor Fran Tonkiss Sociology, 2004-present
Professor Judy Wajcman Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology, Sociology 2009-present
Dr. Ayça Çubukçu Sociology and Human Rights, 2012-present
Professor Henry Wynn Emeritus Professor, Statistics 2012-present
Dr. Wicher Bergsma Statistics, 2005-present
Dr. Alex Fry Academic and Professional Development, 2019-present
Sarah Mak, PhD Academic Registrar's Division, 2016-present
Annette Bauer Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, MSc HPPF 2010
Nathan Brennan Student Marketing and Recruitment, BA History 2018

Audrey Eu Yuet-mee LLM Law 1976
Alex Chow 周永康 MSc City Design and Social Science 2018
Eric Yan-ho Lai 黎恩灝 MSc Political Sociology 2013
Carol Luk MSc Urbanisation and Development 2012
Keith Lin MSc Political Sociology 2009
Daniel Wong Yat-Sing 黃逸昇 MSc Global Politics 2017
Pochung CHOW PhD Government 2006
Jobie Yip Oi Yiu 葉靄瑤 MSc City Design and Social Science 2019
Theresa Yung BSc International Relations 2020
Regina Lai BSc Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method 2020
Jessica Chan BA Social Anthropology 2020
Jonathan Law LLB Law 2021
Robert Hartman LLB Law 2020
Tea Visnjic BSc International Relations 2021
Jad Baghdadi BSc International Relations 2020
Wilson Leung BSc Philosophy 2004
Kathryn Ikeda BSc International Relations 2021
Robert Whittle BSc International Relations 2020
Jay Pan BA History 2017
Kan Yiu Chun Melvin BSc International Relations 2019
Ivan Lau LLB Law 2021
Janice Tsoi BSc Management 2021
Christy Un BSc Politics and International Relations 2019
Ellie Cottrell LLB Law 2021
Saleem Nasarullah BSc Economics 2019
Paola Juan MSc Social Anthropology 2019
Icy Ma BSc Management 2021
Vienna Lee MSc International Relations 2017
Justine Tong An Hwang LLB Law 2021
Victoria Shum BSc International Relations 2020
Cheng On Tung MSc Comparative Politics 2020
Stephanie Sheir BSc Government 2020
Adrian Lui BSc Mathematics, Statistics and Business 2021
Pak Ho Merton Ngan BSc Economics 2021
Tsz Ching Ng MSc Social Anthropology 2020
Chiu Ching Hei BSc Environment and Development 2021
Lianna Li BA Social Anthropology 2020
Guan-Yu Hsiao蕭冠祐 MSc Social Anthropology 2021
Natalie Yu BSc Environmental Policy with Economics 2020
Louis Mourier MSc International Relations 2018
Ruby Wong LLB Law 2021
Damien Lee BSc Economics 2020
Jakob Franke BSc Government and History 2020
Kelvin Mak MSc Accounting and Finance 2020
Scarlett Ng MSc Gender 2021
Anthony Ghassemi BSc Philosophy 2021
Julian Seng MSc Global Economic History 2019
Carina Perez MSc Political Economy of Europe 2020
Andrew Player MSc International Relations 2017
Jeanne Saliou European Institute 2020
Clara Delcourt MSc International and European Public Policy 2020
Maciej Skrzek LLB Law 2022
Luca Pagani MSc Political Economy of Europe 2020
Molly Horner BSc Government and History 2021
Jessica Graham BSc International Relations and History 2021
Jonathan Jun Hei Maw BA Geography 2022
Maccon Keane Bsc Philosophy and Economics 2021
Genevieve England MSc Social Anthropology 2020
Jose Tomas Lobo MSc Management of Information Systems & Digital Innovation 2020
Azul Castaneda Prado MSc Inequalities and Social Science 2020
Arthur Wong BSc Management 2022
Ludovico Picciotto BSc International Relations 2020
Michelle Leung Ka Yan BSc International Social and Public Policy with Politics 2021
Hillary Cheung BSc Economics 2021
Sharif Kazemi BSc International Relations and History 2020
Matthew Eberle BSc Economics 2022
Chu Chih MSc Social Anthropology 2020
Rhidian Price BSc Government and Economics 2020
Eve Nentwig BA Social Anthropology 2021
Chak Wa Hui BSc Economics 2021
Wong Anchi MSc Gender 2020
Adrian So BSc Economics 2020
Kimberly Sequeira MSc Social and Cultural Psychology 2020
George Allison BSc Government and History 2020
Sadia Sheeraz BSc International, Social and Public Policy with Politics 2021
Rosa Wang BSc Management 2022
Ismail Farooq Murad MSc Social Anthropology 2020
Hattie MacLeod BA Social Anthropology 2020
Jamie Roller MSc Management & Strategy 2020
Ryan Wan BSc Economics 2021
Lorraine Tang BSc Government and Economics 2020
Jonathan Ma LLB Law 2022
Bella Mak LLB Law 2021
Timothy Wong BSc Economics 2021
Max Marlow BSc Politics and History 2021
Joey Wolfbauer BSc Politics and History 2021
Adil Mushtaq BSc Accounting and Finance 2021
Kristy Bryant BSc Social Anthropology 2020
Aaron Fung BSc Management 2020
Shabnamsadat Khezri MSc Social Anthropology 2020
Marcin Skiba BSc Geography with Economics 2021
Digby Barratt BSc Government and History 2020
Amraj Lally PhD Sociology 2021
Tsz Kiu Claire Cheng BA Geography 2022
Ronald Juhyoung Kim BSc International Relations 2020
Ines Rispoli BSc Sociology 2022
Maciej Smigaj BSc International Relations 2021
Edward Kettleborough BSc Economic History 2020
Edward Yoon MSc Empires, Colonialism & Globalisation 2018
Nina Zukki BSc International Relations and History 2020
Samuel Grainger BSc International Relations 2020
Yip Chin Wing Jamie BA Anthropology and Law 2021
Madeleine Grant BSc Social Policy 2019
Charmaine Ma LLB Law 2021
Anna Cooper BSc International Relations and History 2020
Angus Paget BA Social Anthropology 2021
Maryse Chan BSc International Relations and History 2021
Michał Pyka LLB Law 2020
Brian Chan BSc Economics 2021
Vivica Wong BSc Management 2020
Maurice Chan BSc Economics 2021
Harry Ward BSc Politics and Philosophy 2020
Wai Sum Luk MSc Urbanisation and Development 2012
Chandan Yendamuri BSc Government and Economics 2020
Iga Lis BSc in History and International Relations 2021
Mia Roach Penn BSc Social Anthropology 2021
Eric Leung BSc Social Anthropology 2019
Laura Mantilla MA Social Anthropology 2019
Alina Galimova BSc Politics and International Relations 2020
Aadil Khan BSc Government and Economics 2020
Arai Rinko MSc China in Comparative Perspective 2020
Kingsley Yat Hei Cheung MSc Politics and Communication 2020
Yu-Shiou Lin 林渝修 MSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics 2020
Ania Gricuk MSc China in Comparative Perspective 2020
Limichi Okamoto BSc Politics & International Relations 2019, MSc Politics & Communication 2021
Gigi Wong BSc Management Science 2002
Steve Wong MSc Economic History 2018
Rebecca McCann BSc International Relations 2020
Karen Torres BSc Social Policy and Government 2020
Hyo Yoon Kang BSc Government and Law 1998, LLM Law
Stephen McKeever BSc International Relations 1990
Emily Friis-Hansen MSc China in Comparative Perspective 2020
Adam Fung MSc Operational Research 2010
Benjamin Etty MSc Finance 2020
Sebastian Ernst MSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics 2020
Stephanie Leung BSc Economics 2020
Isabella Chan MSc Crime, Deviance and Control 2002
Kaylene Yen Ni Houng-Lee LLB Law 2010
Michi Kang BSc Politics 2022
Sebastian Shemirani BSc Philosophy and Economics 2020
Nicholas Chan BSc Management Sciences 1991
Dhriti Manupriya BSc Mathematics and Economics 2020
Sanjana Makhija BSc Mathematics with Economics 2020
Kanon Ida Non-Degree Modern Languages 2020
Henry Chan BSc Economics 1992
Chan Sze Nok Joanna BSc Economics 2022
Andy Chan BSc Economics 2021
Emma Zhang BA Social Anthropology 2020
Melanie Kho BSc Social Anthropology 2020
Rachel Hu BSc International Relations 2020
Kelvin Lam MSc Management 2003
Andre Hui BSc Actuarial Science 2004
Mrs. Elvia Xiaosheng Hong MSc Economic History 2008
Elson Tong BSc International Relations 2013
Markus Illukka BSc International Relations 2006
Andrew Dekany LLB Law 1986
Esmond Wong LLM Law 2018
Gaurav Patel BSc Economics 2006
Azan Marwah BSc International Relations 2005, MSc International History 2006, LLB Law 2010
Pik Shan Pang MA International Strategy and Diplomacy 2018
Sam Page BSc Geography 2017
Zoe Glatt PhD Media and Communications 2021
Justin Lim LLB Law 2002
"Miss Au" Department of Health Policy 2020
Joshua Goh BSc Accounting and Finance 2022
Ellie Furuya MSc Media, Communications & Development 2016
V Loskutova MSc Gender (Sexuality) 2020
Thoraya El-Rayyes PhD Political Science 2021
Graham Robertson MSc Human Rights and Politics 2020
David Eichert PhD International Relations 2023
Christina Ivey BSc Politics and International Relations 2020
David Guo Xiong Han PhD International Relations 2022
Alexandros Zachariades PhD International Relations 2023
Malek Toshani BSc Law and Anthropology 2020
SEAN SHANG-CHI CHOU BA Anthropology 2021
Venus Wong MSc China in Comparative Perspective 2020
Cai Wiliams BSc Social Anthropology 2021
Evan Fowler BA History 2000
Anthony Mok MSc Behavioural Science 2020
Tze Ming Mok PhD Social Policy 2019
Wingyan Yip MSc Local Economic Development 2020
Chanad Ladavalya BSc Government and Economics 2020
Mia Mancini BA Law and Anthropology 2020
Hao-Min Huang MSc Politics and Communication 2020
Oscar Li BSc Management 2022
Chau Cheuk Ying Kristie BSc Management 2020
Joanne Lee BSc Management 2020
Saachin Sivakumar BSc Accounting and Finance 2020
Kate Yiu BSc Management 2020
Andrew Collins MSc Sociology 2018
Amar Patel BSc Economics 2020
Ho Yi Chin BSc Management 2020
Eunice Chau LLB Law 2020
Lee Tsz Kiu Matthew BSc Management 2020
Rachel Ho BSc Management 2019
Michelle Lam BSc Social Policy and Economics 2021
Hazel Mistry BSc Accounting and Finance 2021
Po Fai Wong BSc Economics 2019
Marie Li MSc Organisational and Social Psychology 2020
Ophelia Wong MSc Organisational and Social Psychology 2018
Rita Li LLB Law 2019
Sennett Leung MSc Organisational and Social Psychology 2018
Bernard Liu BSc Politics and Economics 2021
Maitrai Lapalikar BSc International Relations 2020
Cuba Litterick BA Social Anthropology 2022
Catherine Tan MSc International Political Economy 2019
Charlotte Ma LLB Law 2021
Pearl Salamon-White BSc Social Anthropology 2021
Jon Lam BSc Mathematics and Economics 2022
"N" LLB Law 2021
Beatrice Li BSc Economics 2020
Carmen Lau BSc Actuarial Science 2022
James Lo BSc Government 2016
Jennifer Lau LLB Law 2019
Sanaa Alvira MSc International Relations 2019
Edvald Johnsen BSc Social Anthropology 2021
Tasha Chia BSc Politics and International Relations 2019
Jasper Luithlen BA Social Anthropology 2021
Lola Fayokun BSc Politics 2022
Coco Chan BSc Economics 2019
Christian Mueller PhD in Social Research Methods 2021
Maisie Ng LLB Law 2022
Andy Price BSc International Relations and History 2020
Ka Chun Samuel Choy BSc Actuarial Science 2018
Tobias Benzecrit BA History 2020
Chelsea Lam BSc Economics 2021
Jaime Sim LLB Law 2016
Osman Awad BSc Government 2020
Andy Li PhD International Relations 2022
Neil Warner MPhil/PhD Sociology 2023
Doriane Lau MSc Human Rights 2015
Hugo Chow MSc Human Rights 2015
Rebecca Bowers PhD Social Anthropology 2020
Claire Evans MSc International Affairs 2020
Philip Rauber MSc Economic History 2016
Gabrielle Lee BSc Philosophy and Economics 2021

This open letter is an initiative of the LSE Students Alliance for Hong Kong, an LSE Students Union-affiliated campaign.

n.b. Names and titles will updated on a regular basis. For any enquiries regarding the letter, please contact LSE Students Alliance for Hong Kong at, or on Facebook.

[1] Foreign Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2019, “A Cautious Embrace: Defending Democracy in an Age of Autocracies”, HC 109.
[2] LSE, “Code of Practice on Free Speech”.
[3] “London School of Economics academics outraged by proposed China programme”, Financial Times, 27 October 2019.

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